This week, we feature Isabela, the second largest province of the Philippines located in the Cagayan Valley Region or Region II. It is also reputed to be the rice and corn granary of Luzon.
Isabela’s industry thrives on agriculture. With an aggregate land area of 10, 665 square kilometers that represents almost 40 percent of the regional territory, its natives typically harvest rice or corn from its wide arable fields; or catch fish in its bountiful river and ocean waters. Aside from agriculture, some potential investments opportunities are found in fisheries and tourism.
Isabela is the most populated province in Region II, with a total of 68.71 percent of its total household identifying themselves as Ilocanos. The rest of the population are comprised of the Ibanag and the Tagalog ethnic groups, among others.
Ilocanos are known for being spendthrift or frugal, preferring the practical over leisure. Ilocanos exemplify individuals who apply respect and modesty in their everyday lives.
Aside from their outstanding traits, Ilocanos are also known for their love of food. People even say that you can identify an Ilocano if his or her favorite expression is mangan tayon (let’s eat)! Ilocanos diet boast of a healthy diet comprising mostly of boiled or steamed vegetable and freshwater fish. Among the Ilocano favorites are the pinakbet, a dish that include vegetables as ingredients partnered with shrimp paste or the bagoong.
Another favorite is the simple and healthy ginataang puso ng saging (banana flower heart or blossom in coconut milk). With its name derived from its heart-shaped appearance and reddish color, the puso ng saging resembles the flavor of an artichoke and is usually harvested after the banana fruits have formed. It is used as a spice when dried and is the main ingredient of ginataang puso ng saging.
Ginataang puso ng saging is as easy as its name suggests: with the blossom cooked in coconut milk with shrimps or dried fish flakes as optional ingredients. It is also rich in iodine, fiber, and other minerals that makes it a healthy dish.
Prep : 30 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
1 pc Banana Bud (puso ng saging), whole, julienne
2 tbsp salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 tbsp vegetable oil / canola
1 lb pork loin
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper, black, ground
3 cloves Garlic
1/2” Ginger, julienne
1 pc onion, medium, julienne
2 pcs tomato, medium, sliced 1/8”
2 cups water
2 cups coconut milk
1/2 cup Sake or Sherry wine
1 tbsp Shrimp Base (sysco)
1 lb shrimp, large,peeled and deveined
1 pc jalapeño pepper, seeded, julienne
1. In a bowl,combine banana bud and salt. Let sit for 15 minutes,then squeeze moisture out of banana bud to remove the puckery taste. Wash well and drain as you squeeze
2. In a wok or a deep braising pan, pour oil. Brown pork that has been dusted in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Remove from the fire and set aside.
3. In the same vessel, sauté garlic, ginger and onion. Cook until the garlic is lightly browned. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add tomatoes and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.
4. Add browned pork and water. Bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes until tender
5. Add coconut milk, sake, and banana bud. Return to a boil and simmer for another 15 minutes. Stir gently while simmering.
6. . Add shrimp and jalapeño peppers. Simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Stir.
The First Certified Culinary Educator by the American Culinary Federation (ACF) Dean and Director Emeritus, Culinary Arts College and Development.International Students Departments, Johnson & Wales University Providence, R.I.